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Continued reflections for our 75th anniversary—Advice for emerging leaders

Patti Cullen
By Patti Cullen, CAE  |  April 29, 2022  |  All members

During the course of 2022, we have been sharing memories, photos, and pearls of wisdom from members new—and not so new. We sent a series of questions to former Board members/Association leaders, and we will be sharing some of their thoughts with you over the course of this year, culminating with a summer party in August and a big dance celebration for all members in November. This is the fourth article in our series of questions and answers from leaders—the others can be found here: 75th Anniversary—CEO Blog.

What advice would you give to the emerging leaders today who will likely be very resilient given all they have experienced these past two years?

Loren Colman: Be bold. The past will not always guide the future or even repeat but must be considered. The boomers have changed every institution for 70 years and will continue. “Hell no, we won’t go” is the Vietnam mantra that will apply to nursing homes for this generation of 78,000,000 strong!  Be bold and do not settle for incremental change to the workforce challenge. There isn’t enough time for 2-3% annual colas. Don’t be afraid to challenge government or the legislature! 

Dennis Kamstra: The more time you put into the job the more rewarding it will be. I think the members expect their leaders to work at the capital and be their voice on legislative and regulatory issues and listen to their concerns. The years go by very fast and so if you want to leave your mark you have to have an agenda and focus on it!  

Steve Chies: 
  • The senior care sector needs to be on the side of the residents and their families as we have allowed the consumer advocates to wedge between our customers and public policy. This would include a focus on understanding and meeting the expectations for staffing, physical plants (HVAC handling systems), private rooms, technology access, culinary service, etc.
  • Focus on enhancing the workplace and workforce.  Don’t oppose changes to minimum wage, other enhancements to benefits, working conditions, and the need for standards on hours. Create career options and mobility so that a CNA can easily move to a licensed position and others can upgrade as well. This includes removing barriers at the licensure board level and signing the Nurse Compact Act. 
  • Move the sector from having quality being determined by governmental regulations and the subjective opinions of surveyors to control how quality is determined by taking steps to lead the quality agenda. Quality is determined by the client or customer based on their needs AND expectations. Quality metrics should be determined by research and be evidence-based that the metric actually improves outcomes.  
  • Focus on rewarding operational performance. Operators should benefit from their financial/quality performance in the payment systems and not only pay interest to banks or bondholders or dividends to equity investors and REITs.  
  • The Minnesota Medicaid payment model has demonstrated it cannot quickly respond to changes in the marketplace based on the response to the COVID pandemic and changes in both costs and occupancy.  It needs to be focused on how to be proactive in setting payment levels.
  • Be leery of financial payment models disguised as “value-based purchasing”.  Is it really a budget-neutral proposal or giving the funding to non-operators?
  • Many nursing facilities are 50 and 60 years old and need updating.  Assisted living operations may not have anticipated the needs of infection control management. A revised financing model should focus on recognizing upgrading and updating physical plants. The demand for private rooms is a clear client expectation but the payment model creates penalties for downsizing and occupancy decline. Consider a major legislative effort to enhance the physical plants of skilled nursing and assisted facilities.  

Susan Voigt: Do the next right thing.* Educate yourself on the financial side of providing services, but never forget that long term care is a human service being delivered by humans to humans. The better the care and service, the better the financial and not the other way around. Care and service includes care and service of your employees as well as by your employees. Know the regulations and if the regulations conflict with what you and your team consider the next right thing—do the next right thing. It will pay off. Every. Single. Time.  

*And as your legal counsel would advise,  keep notes of “why” you did the next right thing so you can explain why it was right. 

Rick Carter: The success of Care Providers over the years has always been to be proactive in all matters! Don’t wait until others map out a direction, instead be out front in taking a stand and proposing a solution. It is not easy, of course, to be a leader BUT leaders solve problems and those who follow are just that…followers! Be bold in all that you do! Stand for something don’t just stand against things! Always have a positive program in mind whether that be in the Legislative arena or in other areas. Propose, develop, and dispose of annual, and longer goals. Nothing is too big or audacious!  So, my advice to everyone involved in the Association and in the Long-Term Care profession is…to leave a legacy!

About the leaders:
Loren Colman:  Currently private consultant; Provider leader with Extendicare; Board Chair for Care Providers of Minnesota 1996-1997, Assistant Commissioner at the Department of Human Services from 2003 through 2017

Dennis Kamstra:  Currently CEO of Living Services Foundation; Board Chair for Care Providers of Minnesota 1993-1995

Steve Chies:  Currently Program Director, LTC Administration, St. Joseph’s College and Independent Consultant; Board Chair, American Health Care Association 2003-2005; Master Examiner, AHCA/NCAL Quality Program; Board Chair for Care Providers of Minnesota 1981-1982

Rick E. Carter: Associate Director of the Minnesota Health Care Facilities (former name of Care Providers of Minnesota) 1973; became Executive Vice President (title changed to President/CEO) in 1983 until his retirement in 2007.

Susan Voigt:  Dietary aid at Highland Chateau 1971-1973, Minnesota Legislative staff (House Research and Revisor of Statutes) 1980-1984, legal counsel and lobbyist Care Providers of Minnesota 1985-1989, Attorney representing long term care providers at Siegel Brill Law Firm 1989-2001 and Voigt Rode Boxeth Law Firm 2001-2021, CPM Foundation board trustee, Mn Elder Justice Center board 2014-2021; retired 2021. 

Patti Cullen, CAE  |  President/CEO  |  |  952-851-2487


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Care Providers of Minnesota is a non-profit membership association with the mission to Empower Members to Performance Excellence. Our 900+ members across Minnesota represent non-profit and for-profit organizations providing services along the full spectrum of post-acute care and long-term services and support. We are the state affiliate for the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living, and with our national partners we provide solutions for quality care.

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